Ringworm is a medical condition caused by fungal infection of the skin. This condition is medically known as Dermatophytosis, or tinea. Despite its name, the ringworm has nothing to do with worms. The name comes from the typical red ring rash that appears on the infected patient’s skin. The other part of the name is driven from the belief from many centuries ago, when doctors actually believed that this infection was due to a worm. It is estimated that at each point of time, up to twenty percent of the population may be infected by ringworm. The fungal infection may occur at various parts of the body and lead to number of different conditions. Here are the most common types of ringworm infection:Tinea pedis (athlete's foot) affects the feet.Tinea unguium affects the fingernails and toenails.Tinea corporis affects the arms, legs, and trunk.Tinea cruris (jock itch) affects the groin area.Tinea manuum affects the hands and palm area.Tinea capitis affects the scalp.Tinea barbae affects facial hair.Tinea faciei (face fungus) affects the face.Symptoms of ringworm in humans
Signs and symptoms of ringworm infection depend on the location of the infection. The most prominent symptom of ringworm is a characteristic red rash with red and inflamed outer edge and healthy skin in the middle. The rash gradually expands and its center clears to form a ring. The red inflamed rings are usually slightly raised and accompanied with itching. The groin is a common area of infection. If a ringworm infection affects the scalp, it usually begins as a minor pimple that becomes larger, resulting in scaly patches of temporary baldness. The hair also becomes brittle and may easily fall off. If the ringworm affects the nails, they may thicken, discolor, and finally crumble and fall off.
Causes of ringworm in humans
The fungus that causes ringworm infection in humans is very common all around the world. This fungus lives on the human skin, on animals, and it is found in soil as well. However, the fungi that cause ringworm of the foot and ringworm of the nails live only on human skin. The fungi feed on keratin, the matter found in the outer layer of skin, hair, and nails. Fungi thrive and grow especially in warm and moist areas, such as skin folds and sweaty areas of the body. These microorganisms can only live on the dead layer of keratin protein on top of the skin. The fungi may spread from person to person, from animal to person or from the soil to a person. Ringworm can spread by contact with objects or surfaces that an infected person or animal has recently touched or rubbed against. Most commonly, the person gets in contact with ringworm in shared showers, locker rooms, and swimming pools.